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An Evaluation of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office Deferred Prosecution Program

NCJ Number
Christine George Ph.D.; John Orwat Ph.D.; Donald Stemen Ph.D.; Jennifer Cossyleon MA; Julie Hilvers Ph.D.; Edward Chong
Date Published
June 2015
102 pages
This report presents the findings and methodology of an evaluation of the Cook County (Illinois) State Attorneys' Deferred Prosecution Program (DPP), which is a voluntary option for first-time, nonviolent felony offenders under which the preliminary hearing is waived and participants are required to make regular appearances in a branch court, have monthly meetings with a pretrial services officer, and meet certain conditions related to the particular offense and offender education and employment status.
Upon successful completion of the program, the felony charge is dismissed by the prosecutor, and his/her criminal record is expunged. The impact component of the evaluation found little difference in re-arrest rates for a sample of DPP participants and a comparison group of defendants found guilty through traditional adjudication. Approximately 31.4 percent of DPP participants were re-arrested within 18 months of DPP admission compared to about 33.5 percent of defendants in the comparison group. This difference was not statistically significant. Those rearrested within 18 months were more likely to be male, younger, and have more prior misdemeanor and felony arrests. Women in the DPP were less likely to reoffend than women in the comparison group. Findings indicate the need to re-examine a number of strategies in the DPP's implementation, including a more engaged role by the Public Defender's Office, increased information and communication between DPP and other stakeholders, improving and standardizing the screening procedures for prospective participants, and increased assistance to program participants in the expungement process. The lack of a significant recidivism impact could be addressed by including additional services for participants that address education, employment, and mental health and substance abuse needs. Weaknesses in data quality are also addressed in this report. 6 tables, 6 figures, 11 references, and appended data instrument, DPP logic model, and expungement packet review and suggestions